Magalie Guérin has made a name for herself on the East Coast (a standout show at Nicelle Beauchene) and the Midwest (another hit at Chicago’s Rhona Hoffman Gallery). With No Body Knows, currently on view at Anat Ebgi in Los Angeles, the Montreal-born, Chicago-based painter heads west with her petite, richly textured abstract works.
Guérin employs abundant layers of gesso to build her undulating pictorial planes, creating a visible timeline of intensive labor. This fluctuating thickness draws attention to the curvaceous abstract forms that suffuse each image. These forms harken back to Picasso’s Surrealist-era paintings, with depicted bodies featured in an increasingly tenuous relationship with reality. While Guérin’s subjects are also greatly abstracted, lifelike background items such as poles and table tops offer the illusion of realistic space. This puzzling contrast intrigues the viewer and creates a humorous tension in this collection.
Scale also plays a role in the observing of these works. Over the past few years, Guérin has continually restricted the dimensions of her paintings to create a more concentrated viewing area. She has also reduced the number of shapes she utilizes as a matter of formal experimentation, just as Picasso did in his Blue and Pink Periods. These self-imposed rules allow visitors to track Guérin’s development over time. They also help with spotting variations on the theme. When a piece deviates from the set guidelines and features an unexpected shape, texture, or pattern, its individuality shines.
Somehow, all of the pieces in No Body Knows are unique. Their disparate hues and forms inform their varying narratives. With the clues provided, the viewer inserts their own feelings, associations, and narratives on these blank forms like a Rorschach test. In trying to solve the mysteries of these paintings, the audience feels connected. They can release their own inner-artist by helping finish the pieces with their added stories.
Magalie Guérin: No Body Knows
Through May 27, 2017
2660 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034